I'm continuing to experiment with video formats in an effort to produce more content more regularly. This is my man-on-the-street attempt and clearly I haven't yet mastered the selfie video technique, but I'm learning! Be patient, it'll get better (I hope)
In this episode, I comment on an unusual Delta Airlines partnership with Chelsea Football Club. It's a partnership which makes sense on a global scale for both parties...but its the execution that got my attention...
I was keynoting at a Satmetrix (the Net Promoter People) customer experience conference earlier this month in London -- and over fish ‘n chips during lunch, I ended up chatting with one of my fellow keynoters, Ian Williams (@CustExpMan), about making mistakes.
Ian had a rather controversial point of view that organizations should go out of their way to make mistakes ON PURPOSE. I immediately thought of Apple versus Microsoft. While the former seemingly makes mistake after mistake (remember AntennaGate?) and seemingly gets away with it every time, the latter -- in an effort to be perfect to market -- gets vilified for even the tiniest deviations from the norm.
In the startup world, there is a popular saying: “Done is better than perfect.” This statement speaks to the ability get a release in the market warts and all, as opposed to obsessing on ironing out all glitches and gremlins before allowing consumers in.
Failing fast, embracing failure, pivoting and “iterating, iterating, iterating” are all healthy signs of life in the entrepreneurial world, but how does this translate into the corporate world of innovation? Or in this particular case, the world of customer service and customer experience?
Furthermore, what about the ability to purposely make mistakes? It’s one thing to make a mistake (that’s why they call it a mistake), but when this is deliberate, surely it falls somewhere on the continuum of corporate sabotage to corporate insanity?
When I’m asked what makes a brand social, or how a company can become more social, I talk about R.E.A.C.H., an acronym (hey, I’m a consultant) for responsive, empathetic, accessible, connected and HUMAN. What is it to be human? Corporations aren’t human, but their employees are. Brands are not human, but they are symbols that reflect the beliefs, ideals and philosophy of the founders, leaders, employees, partners -- and customers of the company it keeps.
The Starbucks promise is that if you aren’t absolutely happy with your drink, they’ll make another for you. That’s their assurance to you if the barista at the register, the one with the Sharpie or the one that presses the buttons at the machine, isn’t always on top of his game.
If it is true that “to err is human, but to forgive, divine,” surely this is a sign to empower our front line to make more honest mistakes. Humans aren’t perfect, and it is precisely this imperfection that endears us to one another. Surely our customers would be the first to recognize this. Surely empathy works both ways.
I saw a stat that shows that companies who aren’t able to sufficiently solve a problem, but went about it in a genuine, compassionate way, scored higher net promoter scores than companies who did solve a particular problem, but did so in a rude, uncaring or abrasive way. That’s an incredible insight into aptitude versus attitude.
In a world where we punish our customer service agents if they spend too much time on the phone, what if we rewarded them based on how many times they messed up? What if we incentivized our people based on their ability to volunteer times they were prepared to take a chance to tackle a challenge, versus handing it off to the next in line? And if they were to fail, celebrate and encourage them to share the learnings and insights that have the potential to iterate, evolve and grow with the entire company?
Of course, I recognize the irony that if one sets out to make a mistake on purpose, it isn’t a mistake at all, is it? Which is in of itself… perfect!
My latest MediaPost Online Spin column below, which introduces a concept about "earning" versus "commanding" a bundle of products or brands. Whether you're Panasonic, Nike, Apple or Procter & Gamble...this notion applies.
A month ago, Procter & Gamble announced it would be culling about 90 to 100 of its brands globally, in a restructure that would instead focus on the company’s top 70-80 brands.
On the surface, the move makes complete sense. After all, the remaining brands have accounted for 90% of sales and 95% of profit over the past three years.
So if I read that correctly (and the math is rather simple), we’re talking about 90-100 brands responsible for 10% of sales and only 5% of profit.
If that’s the case, one might ask what on earth the company was doing in the first place carrying so much dead weight relative to the remaining rock stars.
Or perhaps you were astounded by the tremendous lopsided contribution of sales and margin within the family of brands. You shouldn’t be, as your own customer base is probably not that radically different from this kind of 80/20 split. Certainly this is true within the B2B world -- and although less so in the B2C space, I wonder what Zappos, Starbucks, Amazon.com or Coca-Cola would say when it comes to their power products.
But I digress.
So back to P&G and the announcement, which came from Chairman and CEO A.G. Lafley, who himself had returned to the company 14 months prior to steady a rather behemothic ship. Lafley had indicated disappointment with the company’s financial situation, and this move was a decisive step to get things back on track.
And yet, I didn’t interpret any strength in this move at all. To me, it was all about consolidating the status quo; the known versus unknown; the “safe bets” or sure things versus the wildcards or anomalies.
I would contend that there are no sure things or safe bets nowadays. Just look at the threat Dollar Shave Club presents to the incumbent, P&G’s Gillette brand.
My gut feeling is that P&G’s brand-cutting move will be followed by a tried and tested approach, including mass/paid media and reach-heavy digital or social plays like Facebook, and doubling down on massive global sponsorships like the Olympics, as opposed to riskier and less proven approaches on the innovation front.
In my previous startup boutique, I did some work with Panasonic. I recall how excited execs were about an SD card that could be interchanged and used in all their devices, from camcorders to cameras to HD TV’s to their Toughbook P.C. They believed that this interoperability (or compatibility) would be key to developing an unequivocal reason for consumers to choose every product within Panasonic’s portfolio.
I remember telling them to “earn the bundle,” not “command the bundle.” Instead of creating a walled garden or closed system, let people decide for themselves what to use, and based on your great functionality, service and experience, they would give you more of their hard-earned money and loyalty.
If you think about it, the walled garden didn’t even work for Apple. And thankfully so, when you look at how many iPods the company subsequently sold to PC users.
Nike “earned the bundle” with me. I started with the obvious pair of shoes and hodge-podged the rest of my outfit from every other brand. Today, my shoes, socks, , GPS watch, shirt, shorts, windbreaker, gloves and hat are all part of the earned “Just Do It” bundle.
Instead of cutting brands, why wouldn’t P&G have looked to invest in its existing suite, creating creative, lateral and bold pairings or partnerships, bundled around “reasons to behave” versus “reasons to believe.” Like P&G did with Potty Palooza during frigid Times Square days, with Duracell (charge your phones and cameras) and Charmin (go to the loo). Or what Charmin did with its Sit or Squat acquisition. Although truth be told, we still haven’t seen this live up to its potential -- for example, a tour de force combination of Always, Pampers and Charmin owning the public restroom for entire families!
As the old saying goes: "If you're digging yourself into a hole, the smart thing is to stop digging.” Personally, I would choose to earn the bundle from a much larger portfolio of everyday products, as opposed to commanding the bundle from a smaller set – which no doubt will be under even more financial scrutiny, competitive pressure and startup disintermediation in the future.
Lately I’ve been describing myself as the Robin Hood of marketing. If I look back at my four books -- “Life after the 30-second spot,” “Join the Conversation,” Flip the Funnel” and “Z.E.R.O.” -- they all have a common theme of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Or, in marketing speak: budget optimization (sounds less daring when you put it that way).
I challenge marketers to rethink the way they spend other people’s money in favor of a scenario which I believe more realistically reflects reality – or, at least a reality grounded in consumer insights and the actual behavior of the people they call consumers.
Inherent in the final optimization is the belief that we need to create innovation budgets. My co-author and fellow Online Spin writer, Maarten Albarda, dedicates an entire chapter in "Z.E.R.O." to the budget-setting component of the Z.E.R.O. action plan.
The creation of new budgets and allocation of funding is nothing new to marketing or media. I wish I could tell you this was the first time we are discussing this, but if I did it would just be déjà vu all over again. Every new medium has faced the same challenges when it comes to begging for scraps, justifying its existence and making the case for a spending level commensurate with consumer behavior and media consumption.
I only need to think back to my agency days recall the eye rolls when I pleaded for dollars that I believed were justified -- if not right then, certainly in the months to come.
I also remember being told that there are two types of people: pioneers and settlers. The pioneers get killed and the settlers take the land. “Joe, my boy: you are a pioneer!” Gee, thanks (I think…).
It takes a bold individual to put that stake in the ground (versus having it thrust through their heart). Chuck Fruit did it at Anheuser-Busch and The Coca-Cola Company with regards to cable television (ESPN is still grateful), and most recently, Mondelez’ (a client) Bonin Bough did it with respect to mobile.
In the world of digital innovation, we constantly hear about the 60/30/10 -- or 70/20/10 as a slightly more conservative -- rule being applied, led by the uber innovator, Google and in the corporate world, Coca-Cola (again) respectively. Coke refers to it as Now, New and Next.
So with all that said, what percentage of your budget are you spending on innovation -- aka “next”? Do you even have a budget to begin with? And if so, do you have a dedicated champion internally, and partner externally, to help you execute against it?
It dawned on me last week as I was immersing myself in the startup world of Silicon Valley that this 10% dream is really just a pipe dream to marketers. They talk a big game, but walk an entirely different one. I realized that 10%, while realistic and practiced by a handful of progressive brands, is unattainable to many others.
So I thought I would take the hatchet and lop off an entire digit, leaving us with a solitary and pretty binary “1.” I challenge the marketers still standing to get to 1% for innovation. Could you do it? Could you do it this year? And no, the year is NOT almost over. What about next year? How embarrassed will you be when you get to the end of NEXT year with still nothing NEW to show for it? Shouldn’t you take the first step NOW?
For your first step, why not move the decimal place one more time to the left: 0.1%. On a $50 million spend, we’re talking about $50,000. How about 0.1% of your spend on a test, experiment or pilot program. I don’t care what you call it, as long as you call it. As long as it isn’t others calling… time of death. Yours.
Using a Texting and Driving case study, I draw an analogy with marketing innovation in general and ask why we hold back investing in innovation efforts (in particular when it comes to incusive coverage across all mobile platforms), especially when we're talking about rounding errors.
This one got a lot of traction and deals with the idea that startups are much more active "testers" or experimenters of consumer action, reaction, behavior and ultimately insights....than brands. The best way to understand consumers is not through one-way mirrors and focus groups, but rather through actual interactions. Startups remind us to "learn" by "doing".
I draw an analogy between weight loss and innovation as it relates to change. Best laid plans or fear of making the first move lead to the same outcome: lethargy, inactivity and essentially stagnation or decay.
Enjoy the articles and feel free to "join the conversation" with your thoughts, feedback and/or pushback.
At the end of my presentation, I challenged the audience to do one thing in the remaining six months of the year: test or pilot an innovation program that took them out of their comfort zones and allowed them to experience an emerging technology or perhaps just one platform they were deficient in.
I invited the brands to call me on New Year’s Eve, saying I would be close to my phone and looked forward to hearing a first-person account of their program, what they’d learned in the process, what they would do differently -- and most importantly, what they would do next.
Dec. 31 came. Dec. 31 went. The phone didn’t ring.
Even sadder was that I always knew it wouldn’t.
Scenario A: The overflowing glass
In this exceptional scenario, the brands were already piloting, accelerating, even investing in technology, platforms, startups and/or projects designed to obliterate their competition. They didn’t call because they didn’t need to call. They had successfully moved beyond dipping their toes in the water and didn’t need me to give them a gentle nudge (shove) into the blue ocean.
To them, I say: You’re awesome, but you still should have called. At the very minimum, I’ll profile you and your company in my next book. While I recognize your need not to share your successes with the outside world, you are in fact so far ahead that the others may never catch up. Plus, this is the sharing economy -- and if you want to learn from others, you should contribute to the growing pool of best practices and case studies.
Scenario B: The glass half-full
Let’s say every marketer left the event energized and emboldened to innovate. They ignored the hundreds of political and yet banal emails. They even delegated the “fires” back at the office to underlings. Instead, they piloted to their heart’s content. So why didn’t they call? Perhaps they thought I was joking. Perhaps they figured their job was done when they checked 1 x pilot program from their 2013 to-do list.
To them, I say: The only way to keep on innovating… is to keep on innovating. Now that you’ve completed one successful program, what will you do next? Innovation is a journey, not a destination and you will NEVER reach the finish line. Whether covering the digital, social, mobile or emerging categories, there will ALWAYS be an area where you’re lagging.
Scenario C: The glass half-empty
Same as earlier, except the programs didn’t work as well as perhaps was anticipated. Why didn’t they call? These brands didn’t want to admit failure, and so they refrained from calling out of empathy and consideration: they just didn’t want to let me down.
To them I say: Keep your head up. You are all winners. There is no such thing as failure in the Age of Improv. It’s all about the pivot. Don’t give up. You’ll be so much better next time.
Scenario D: The empty glass
Flatline. You did nothing. You forgot. You didn’t care. You were distracted. You didn’t have enough bandwidth. Your agency talked you out of it. Your boss talked you out of it. You couldn’t sell it. You gave up. You didn’t believe. You didn’t care. You weren’t motivated enough. Something came up.
Pick your poison. This is not mutually exclusive multiple choice. Check all that apply.
To them I say: you just lost ANOTHER six months. You bet the farm on the status quo, with hope springing eternal that the IPSOS data would be your salvation. You put your stock in the new tagline or campaign or promotion and the result was crickets. And in July of 2014, when the next speaker challenges you, you will have lost yet another six months.
Stop the rot. Make that change. Commit to action. Time flies when you’re stuck in purgatory, waiting in vain and resigned to die.
Those are my four scenarios. If you were in the audience, which one did you fit into? And if you weren’t there, which one do you think was the more likely scenario?
I think you know which one I believe is the more realistic outcome.
Why is this the case?
What needs to change to avoid this mindless reenactment of Groundhog Day?
I haven't posted my Online Spin articles for a while, but I'd like to do so now with 3 related ones that all triangulate on a brand marketer's need to change, move quicker, embrace the "fear" of failure (the only thing to fear is fear itself) and ultimately, adopt a much more progressive lean-forward approach to new media, emerging technology and partnership with startups/entrepreneurs.
Facebook isn't failing marketers. Marketers are failing marketers - This article really isn't about Facebook at all, but rather the approach that marketers take when evaluating and ultimately executing new media or emerging media programs. With respect to the former, it's all about old school reach and therefore replication and with the latter, it's anemic lip-service due to the lack of reach. The unadulterated creativity, originality and disruptive innovation is nowhere to be found...
I have seen the enemy - and the enemy is within - My latest article, which goes back to the notion of "doing nothing" but this time focuses on all the wheel spinning, lost time and therefore expended resources on deciding NOT to move forward on opportunities already under consideration.
Here's the final article in its entirety:
Companies are their own worst enemies. The amount of wheel-spinning that takes place to get an initiative in place or even started, only for the rug to be ripped out underneath due to “a new CMO coming in” (or an existing one going out), “a budget cut” or “a reorg,” translates into significant hours expended, and therefore has a very real price tag.
I think it’s important we recognize the tangible cost of dragging our feet, being stuck in holding patterns and/or ultimately having cold feet as a substantial cost of doing business.
The waste of time -- and therefore money -- is mission critical, especially when dealing in a complex, dynamic and turbulent marketplace, with -- let’s face it -- extremely scarce resource (and by scarce resources, I’m talking about talent and time). While we all complain about budget cuts, in reality we are swimming in obscene excessive amounts of money that go into the temporal renting of multitasking eyeballs (yes, I’m talking about YOU, 30-second spot).
As a writer and speaker, I get to clench my fist and shake it disapprovingly at you a lot. You agree with me and yet you do nothing about it.
As a consultant and “agency” guy, I get to feel the short stick by being on the receiving end of your constant “reorgs” and additional approvals and reviews.
But honestly, don’t worry about me -- this is about you. I’m really worried about you.
Did you ever stop and think that all this time lost is actually hurting the current and future state of your business? In other words, hastening the next reorg and restructure? Your inability to get anything done that is different, original, unique and/or innovative is without question putting your own continuity and value INTO question.
Seriously, consider the ROI of not doing anything. It’s a Return on Inertia that is ironically very measurable both as an opportunity cost (past/hours) and opportunity lost (future/execution).
Instead, consider the analogy of waiting in a very long line. You’ve stood for an hour and you’re strongly considering calling it quits and walking away. Only, you’ve already spent an hour and who knows, the wait might only be another 30 minutes or so. And then before you know it, it’s 90 minutes or 2 hours. Now you DEFINITELY can’t walk away, because you’ve invested 2 hours, which is much more than the hour. And then it’s three hours -- and so on.
Why not apply the same logic to your projects? Stay the course!. Consider all the hours and legwork that got you this far and use that as the incentive to keep going.
And if all else fails, consider this: “If you’re not adding to your legacy, you’re adding to your eulogy.”
to the reincarnated and reinvigorated Jaffe Juice.
What was once a weekly op-ed column is now an unshackled, uncensored and uninhibited dialogue
on the subjects of new marketing, advertising and creativity.